Celebrity Interview: Nev Shulman Talks Dancing with Stars 'Controversy' and Catfish Legacy
The host of Catfish is living his Dancing with the Stars Dream.
Catfish creator and host Nev Shulman has long harbored a secret desire to be on Dancing with the Stars. Shulman, in this very interview, talks about how the shooting schedule of Catfish was what kept him from being able to take on Dancing with the Stars in the past. Now that the pandemic has forced Nev to host Catfish from home and go on without its usual globetrotting travel schedule, suddenly, Nev found himself with the time and opportunity to be part of Dancing with the Stars and have the experience he secretly desired. I recently spoke with Nev Shulman and you can listen to this interview as a podcast linked here, or read along.
SP- Learning to dance amid a pandemic can’t be easy…
Nev Shulman- Learning to dance is never easy, but it’s always fun and I think, more than ever, me and hopefully everybody watching, just was ready to have a little bit of fun. And so that is what we are doing.
SP- But what has this been like though, balancing all of this with COVID testing and distancing and yet you’re also working in a dance studio this had to be a unique challenge.
Nev Shulman- It definitely has its unique challenges, for sure. I think at first it was a little clunky as we all figured out the routine and best practices but, we’re in a great groove now. Yeah, everyday we get tested and, obviously, they do a really good job of making sure all of the different protocols, and studios, and you know, in between rehearsals gets fully cleaned down and sanitized, and I feel very safe. Actually, I feel safer than I’ve ever felt. And healthier because I am getting tested everyday so, it’s been great.
SP- So, when they first approached you about Dancing with the Stars, what was your initial thought?
Nev Shulman- My first thought was: FINALLY. I have been wanting to do this show for so long and I have always loved dance, I’ve always been a big fan and supporter of dance. And, you know, I always sort of hoped that maybe one day it could happen but with my filming schedule on Catfish, and my traveling for the show, it never really felt like it could be possible. And, so the fact that this season, they actually did reach out and were interested in having me, and because we are filming Catfish remotely, I can film from home now, it meant that I could stay in one place throughout the duration of the season. So, it weirdly, kind of, came all together.
SP- Now, there has been, I don’t want to call it ‘controversy’ but, talk, perhaps about your dance experience. It’s not like you’ve had years of Ballet or something…
(Laughing) Nev Shulman- Obviously, there are people on the show with, like, in Kaitlyn (Bristow)’s case, she was a dancer and pursued dance as a career and then Johnny (Weir), obviously, as an Ice Skater, he’s had years and years of training, um, so, you know, it’s funny, I guess people were surprised that I had had some dance history and background and maybe they didn’t feel I was forthcoming enough about that, although, I felt like I certainly haven’t hidden it. But yeah, as a middle schooler, I danced from about 5th grade, up until High School with a youth outreach program called the National Dance Institute. But, by no means was it formal training. And then, you know, I took a dance class here and there, but it was certainly never something that I pursued seriously and certainly not as a career. So, people are always looking for drama and headline-y, click-bait stuff, so you know, if that’s the thing they want to look at, fine, but I have never done any ballroom dancing. That’s for sure.
SP- It’s kind of funny, that people are now digging in and trying to dig up dirt on ‘The Catfish Guy’
Nev Shulman- Exactly, yeah, well, I’ve got nothing to hide. It’s all out there and plain to see.
SP- Speaking of Catfish, the journey that that show has been on for so many years now, and the way that it has become, not just a show but a shorthand, you’ve created an idiom. What’s that like for you?
Nev Shulman- I mean, it’s, it’s kind of funny, you know, I’ve, in my years since the show’s been on, I’ve traveled, and I’ve been in other countries, whether it was South Africa or the U.K, and people will drive past me on the street, roll their windows down and yell ‘Catfish’ at me, and, you know, sometimes it’s a little weird. But, it’s also amazing that I’ve been able to be apart of this conversation that so many people are having all the time, in terms of online relationships and the reality that, in many cases, people find themselves talking with someone that they don’t know, and more importantly, don’t know if they’re telling them the truth, and in many cases aren’t. And it’s just become such a big part of our lives, and I think we all know someone who’s been Catfished, or maybe, thinks that they’ve been Catfished, or maybe is a Catfish themselves, so it’s been an amazing experience to get to, sort of, as you said, sit at the center of this phenomenon. I’ve had a lot of fun with it.
SP- I don’t want to blow smoke here, but Catfish has changed online interaction in a profound way, that I think is a flashpoint in the history of social media.
Nev Shulman- Yeah, I mean, what’s amazing about the show is that, you know, people deceiving each other and lying, is not a new thing, you know, that’s been happening, and still is and will probably forever be happening, when it comes to romance, obviously, since the internet, and even more so, since dating apps and essentially, dating completely moved to the internet, it’s really unlocked a whole world of opportunity for people who probably, otherwise, would not have ever done it but now, all of a sudden, there is this easy way to either slightly alter or entirely change who you are when you go on the internet. So, it’s been pretty interesting to see what human nature has inspired people to do when it comes to looking for love now that we have this new tool.
SP- Now, being the investigator that you are and now being on Dancing with the Stars, did you get a chance to get to the bottom of the Carole Baskin situation?
Nev Shulman- Uh, you know, I did ask around a little bit, but I didn’t get much chance to talk to her. But, my soft spot, if you will, I tend to be most attracted to and interested in people that are in many cases considered monsters. People who are, at least on the show, who present themselves as mean or attention seeking, I find those people the most interesting and dynamic. So, in her case, I was definitely fascinated by her and the experience that she’s had and I would like to know more but, obviously I didn’t have that opportunity. But, I did speak to her partner about her, I was inquiring, I haven’t obviously made any decisions or judgments on what I think actually happened but, as far as I am concerned, she was lovely and nice and she put herself out there and so I give her credit for that.
SP- Returning to Dancing with the Stars, what are we looking forward to on Monday night, October 12th, from you and your partner?
Nev Shulman- Monday night is 80s night so everyone will be dancing to great songs from the 80s. We’ll all be wearing great outfits. I’m someone who relishes in any opportunity to dress up and when I dress up, I go all the way, there’s no halfway for me, with anything. So, big hair, bright colors, we’ll be dancing to Take on Me by A-Ha, sped up because we’re dancing the Quick Step, so it will be a little faster than you might remember it but it’s just going to be a big fun dance and we’re pulling out all of the stops.